I have put in (literally) decades of work acting on the assumption that folks are reasonable and well-intentioned, and trying to be effective and get messages across. Part of that time I was even paid to do so.
IRL, for the most part, I try to interact with people like that.
However, I’m sick to puking of seeing so much shit go down for so long and seeing so little change and seeing progress for women in engineering shudder and stall and hearing over and over and over and over again “we just have to wait for the old guard to die off and for spots to open up and for women to work their way up through the ranks and the younger guys will not behave in these stupid ways the older d00ds do and things are getting better and you can’t make women go into engineering if they don’t want to and men and women just prefer different career choices and it’s a fact of life that women have babies and there’s nothing you can do about it and we’d love to have on campus daycare for everyone but in these tight fiscal times we have to make tough choices and I know that Professors X and Y are not so good with students from underrepresented groups but nobody else really wants to do the student counseling job or the recruiting job and besides if they went back to their departments they wouldn’t really be able to teach or do research and we think this research on how to make departments more welcoming to women is very interesting but we don’t feel that we want to make any changes to what we are doing in our department at this time because our two women professors haven’t told us that anything is wrong and things will get better as time goes on and if there were great women scientists they would have been nominated for the National Academy but the fact that they weren’t proves there aren’t that many and I would be more interested in hearing what you have to say if you weren’t so angry and I can’t help it if I’m staring at your boobs because evolution makes me do it and if you are going to wear that sexy shirt to the lab you have to expect to be treated like a sex object and if you are going to dress in a sack it just proves that all engineering women are ugly dykes and you really cannot expect to gain any allies for your cause when you are so angry and you are hurting the feminist cause and anyway why are you all worked up about privileged women academics who really have it pretty good when women in Some Other Country are being tortured and raped and anyway racism is the real issue* and things are getting better with each generation and my best friend is a woman scientist and she’s never experienced discrimination and this is all just a bunch of political correctness liberal blather and I believe things are getting better and why are you so angry…”
My blog is not primarily about assuming that people are reasonable and well-intentioned and trying to get messages across to them. I’m not exactly sure what it’s all about, but one thing it is about is a place for me to give voice to the decades of accumulated frustration and anger, to not have to talk reasonably and peaceably and calmly to douchenozzles that are driving me fucking crazy. Very few people who work for a living can ever afford to give voice to those feelings and thoughts in public, to analyze the douchebaggery for what it is. I couldn’t when I was working. Now I can.
What can I say? I am a hairy-legged feminazi.
*anyway, racism is indeed the real issue AS WELL, you disingenuous douchebag.
As you know, it was just over a thousand years ago this past March that I defended my dissertation. As I recall, I picked up a dozen bagels and some cream cheese on the way to the defense, and the department
secretaries administrative assistants brought in an urn of coffee. It was me and my committee. My advisor made some exceedingly brief introductory remarks and then the semi-bored, semi-hostile committee allowed me to launch into the show-and-tell of What Did You Do These Last Five Years. A few hours later it was all over but the revisions and shouting. Literally. Revisions completed, signatures of committee members collected…and then, suddenly, Advisor wants to make changes. Big changes.
The other day, a male friend of mine was at the grocery store in the check out line. He was not feeling particularly happy, and, I guess, was frowning a little. A dude in line behind him tapped him on his shoulder to get his attention and when he turned around, the dude said, in a bright voice, “You dropped something,” and was pointing to the floor. My male friend looked down and said, “I don’t see anything.” The dude then told him, “You dropped your smile.” My male friend was not amused. He turned around going back to his business saying, “Oh, OK.” The man proceeded to walk away mumbling, “Don’t look so serious. It’s only the grocery store.”
That doesn’t sound right, does it?
No, because it really happened to a woman. There, that feels more…normal, doesn’t it?
Isis got a letter from a PhD student who was told in a teaching evaluation that she needs to smile more. Isis gave her some excellent advice but I want to address this whole “needs to smile more” issue from a different angle.
March is women’s history month, but don’t let that circumscribe your fun. You can get together with a posse of your like-minded women friends and mock mansplainers anytime. Now, I know many of you have just recently learned that there even existed a name you could attach to this annoying behavior plaguing your existence. Believe me, I know how important naming experience is – that’s why I have a whole category assigned to the topic. But your joy need not begin and end with just knowing that the craptastic manifestations you’ve been subjected to are (1) not your fault, (2) part of a larger system of patriarchy, and (3) mocked by many, many, many women all over the place.
No, you can have even more fun. Why not get together with a couple of good friends for movie night or a book club meeting? Get a nice bottle of wine (if you are a wine drinker) or a local microbrew or just make a nice pot of tea. You could order some tea from Premium Steap – they have awesome stuff, and it’s a woman-owned business.
So, let’s talk about two things – what to read or watch, and what to eat.
Over at the mansplaining thread, you can read literally hundreds of hilarious, annoying, frustrating, heartbreaking stories of how women are constantly subjected to intrusive, incessant, insensitive, inane mansplaining. Interspersed you will also find comments from d00dly d00ds whinging away about how awful it is that women are talking so MEAN about men, and their mansplanations about how mansplaining doesn’t exist. Then some douche tried to coin the phrase femsplaining.
Femsplaining, as best I can tell, is a phenomenon that arises in the following manner: